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Eighth Generation Si Evokes JDM Time Attack Aura in Stateside Import Scene
BY Wes Taylor //
December 4, 2023
@lockitin_productions
Photography: Wes Taylor
@lockitin_productions
  • The eighth generation Civic Si is powered by a 2.0-liter K20Z3 I-VTEC engine that produces 197hp from the factory, but most are modified well beyond this figure.
  • Tom’s Civic build is inspired by JDM car culture and time attack racing and credits his project’s direction to a no-compromise vision of those two blended worlds.
  • Honda standout Feel’s was a critical tuner for the project and Tom worked hard to adopt its “total tuning approach” to execute his vision.

Some cars are staples of their markets, be it import, sedan, coupe hatchback, etc. One of those is the Honda Civic. No, it may not be a Supra or Skyline, but it has helped to pave the way for today’s import scene. Tomund Lee, the owner of this car, was impressionable by the Civic’s allure. He found himself at an all-import show called Import Face-Off in 2010 and became hooked. Soon after, Tom purchased his 8th gen Civic Si in 2011 brand new with 11 miles on the clock.

NOT STOCK FOR LONG

Tom started modifying his car right after high school in 2013, but admits that his build didn’t start until 2020. That’s when he joined Team Tensei, a group of tuners that actively participate in meets and shows like Import Face-Off. Like the team, he wanted to breathe authentic Japanese culture into his Si, and the only natural way to do that was to go back to the source, not the copycats of today.

IN THE FEELS

That JDM source for the Honda Civic was Honda Twin-cam, better known as Feel’s. The company began modifying the Civic back in the ‘80s when the Si hit the streets of Japan. Feel’s lives by the culture of a “total tuning approach,” where all aspects of the car should be addressed. As a result, Feel’s offers a broad spectrum of parts: body kits, performance bolt-ons, lightweight batteries, and more. Its solid JDM reputation made its way stateside thanks to its famous “EK9” Civic hatch Type R body kit, and tuners across the states took a liking to its parts until the late 2000s.

TIME ATTACK INSPIRATION

It took Tom some time to gather his vision of what he wanted, but the final product was a time-attack car like one would come across overseas. As a result, many of the parts on his car aren’t available stateside, especially since the FD2 Type R — the top-tier model of its time — wasn’t available here. Using all imported parts, Tom converted the entire USDM Si into its over-the-pond Type R sibling. This included one of three partial carbon front bumpers and a full wide-body kit.

The rare pieces on Tom’s hybrid don’t stop there; he found some Carbon Ballade mirrors for an S2000 that work well with the other carbon parts. Tom knew he was after that Time Attack look, so the Voltex wing has one-off 275mm titanium raisers to raise the wing nearer to the roofline. White 18×9.5 Desmond Regamaster EVO 2 wheels complemented the exterior color well while leaving adequate room for a custom mocked-up set of four-piston Brembos from an Acura TL Type-S. 

Rare pieces aren’t just on the outside; even the steering wheel and seats are hard to find. A J’s Racing numbered 37 of 69 colored wheel hangs off the steering column and two limited edition Tomcat Yellow SR4 Recaro bucket seats replace the factory Si trim. 

ALL-AROUND PERFORMANCE

Tom wasn’t looking for straight-line speed here; the factory 2.0 K-Series has a few bolt-ons like a ported intake manifold from RBC, CAI from Hybrid Racing, and a titanium exhaust from FEEL’s that’s been discontinued. Like many Honda tuners, Tom’s Type R converted Si uses Hondata for data logging and tuning. The chassis and suspension have also received a healthy amount of updates; after all, the cornering ability is where a time-attack car shines.

Tom looks back and wishes he’d spent more time sourcing more true JDM parts, but his experience building this time attack hybrid overshadows that. He’s not only met friends he now calls brothers but also met the love of his life, and they now have a family together. It’s an all too familiar story in the aftermarket world where passion projects like these end up facilitating results that far outright the build itself. Indeed, Tom has his Si to thank for a lot of it and hopes to breathe more true Japanese culture into his car as the project continues.


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